Learning How to Apologize to Yourself


Apologizing to oneself requires self-talk. Perhaps you have heard someone say, “Talking to yourself is a sign of mental illness.” Wrong! Mentally healthy people always talk to themselves – encouraging themselves, advising themselves, questioning themselves. Some of this self-talk is done aloud; much of it is done inwardly and silently. One woman I know said, “When I have a tough challenge ahead of me, I will always murmur aloud, over and over, ‘You can do this.’ It helps!”

We suggest that you write out your self-apology before you speak it to yourself.

We have here a template that you can use to apologize to yourself. You may change the order of the statements, and you may change the wording. We offer it simply to help you get started in forming your self-apology.

“_____________, I want to tell you that I did wrong; I mean really wrong, grossly wrong. _____________, I want to tell you how bad I feel about it and how much I regret what I did. I want to tell you that I have learned my lesson. _____________, I want to give myself the freedom to be happy again. And, _____________, I want to ask you to forgive me and to help me make the most of my life in the future. _____________, because I believe your apology is sincere, I choose to forgive you.”  

Go ahead and write your self-apology statement. We believe that apologizing to yourself is an important step in the process of restoring “peace with yourself.”

Forgiving oneself is much like forgiving someone who has offended you.

Forgiving someone else means that you choose to no longer hold the offense against them. You will accept them back into your life and will seek to continue building your relationship with them. Their offense is no longer a barrier in your relationship. If a wall is seen as a symbol of their offense against you, forgiveness tears down the wall. Forgiveness allows the two of you to communicate again and to listen to each other with a view to understanding. It opens up the potential of working together as a team.

The same is true in forgiving oneself.

At its root, self-forgiveness is a choice. We feel pained at our wrongdoing. We wish we had not committed the offense. The reality is that we have. We have apologized to other parties who were involved if our offense was against others. Perhaps we have asked God’s forgiveness. We have also apologized to ourselves. Now it is time to forgive ourselves. 

As you wrote your self-apology statement, we also encourage you to write your self-forgiveness statement. Here is a sample that may stimulate your own thinking. 

“_____________, the offense you committed has troubled me greatly. It has brought me much inner anxiety. But I have heard our sincere apology and I value you. Therefore, _____________, I choose to forgive you. I will no longer hold the offense against you. I will do everything I can to make your future bright. You can count on my support. Let me say it again, _____________: I forgive you.”

As in forgiving others, this self-forgiveness does not remove all the pain or memories of your failure, nor does it necessarily remove all the results of your failure. What forgiveness does is release you from the bondage of your past failures and give you the freedom to make the most of the future. 

Adapted from The 5 Apology Languages: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Gary Chapman & Jennifer Thomas (© 2022). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission. 

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